The late Thursday afternoon arrest was not without incident.
According to a news release, the California’s Ventura County Sheriff’s Department “contacted Miya Ponsetto, age 22, during a traffic stop near her home in Piru,” an unincorporated historic town about an hour northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The Sheriff’s Department said the arrest was related to “a fugitive warrant in connection with a recent assault at a New York City hotel.”
Per the news release, Ponsetto “did not stop for deputies until she reached her residence, and she refused to get out of the car.”
“Deputies forcibly removed her from the vehicle and arrested her for the outstanding warrant,” the sheriff’s department said. “Ponsetto was booked at the Pre-Trial Detention Facility in Ventura, where she is being held without bail for the fugitive warrant. She will remain in local custody pending an extradition hearing. Detectives from the New York Police Department arrived in Ventura County on Thursday morning to help coordinate the arrest.”
Under New York law, assault is the causing of physical injury with intent or the reckless causing of physical injury.
Video released by the New York Police Department showed what happened after the viral cell phone recording is said to have ended. It shows Ponsetto “proceeded to physically attack” the teen “and fled the location before police officers arrived,” according to a tweet by NYPD Detectives Bureau Chief Rodney Harrison.
On Saturday, December 26, the woman in this video falsely accused an innocent 14-year-old teenager of stealing her cellphone. She then proceeded to physically attack him and fled the location before police officers arrived on scene. pic.twitter.com/qtZZWetBWH
— Chief Rodney Harrison (@NYPDDetectives) December 31, 2020
Shortly before the arrest, CBS This Morning’s Gayle King interviewed Ponsetto remotely. CBS tweeted a clip:
The 22-year-old woman caught on camera allegedly physically attacking a 14-year-old Black teen and falsely accusing him of stealing her phone was arrested in California.
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) January 8, 2021
Ponsetto said that she approached the Black teen, since identified as 14-year-old Keyon Harrold, Jr., because she assumed anyone leaving the hotel was “probably the one . . . might be the one that is trying to steal” the phone.
“I admit, yes, I could have approached the situation differently or maybe not yelled at him like that and made him feel, you know, maybe — some sort of — uh — inferior way, making him feel as if I was like hurting his feelings, because that’s not my intention,” Ponsetto said. “I — I consider myself to be super sweet. I really never, ever meant for it to, like, hurt him or his father, either.”
Ponsetto clarified that she wasn’t stopping “everyone” leaving the hotel. She said she was undertaking her own detective work “while the hotel manager was checking the footage” to see who may have had the phone.
King challenged Ponsetto’s assertion that she was “super sweet” by directing her to the video of the altercation.
“How would you feel if you were alone in New York, and — you know — you’re going to spend time with your family during the holidays and you lose the one thing that gets stolen from you that has all of the access to the only way that you’re going to get back home,” Ponsetto said.
King said Ponsetto looked like she was “nuts” in the video. Ponsetto said the one tape didn’t show her whole personality.
Ponsetto said she “sincerely, from the bottom of her heart” apologized. But King said the video appeared to show that Ponsetto “physically attacked this young boy.”
Ponsetto then said the teen’s “dad did end up, like, slamming me to the ground, and, uh, pulling my hair, and throwing me, and dragging me across the ground, so, I, I will say that.”
King said that the video showed Ponsetto attacking the man’s son.
Ponsetto said she apologized for “yelling” and then suggested that people should “move on.”
King suggested that Ponsetto needed to address the “context” to her actions and understand them.
“Okay, so, basically, I’m — I’m a 22 year old girl. I am — I don’t — I — racism — is — uh — how is one girl accusing a guy about a phone a crime? Where is the context in that?” Ponsetto said before trailing off in thoughts about the context and deeper meaning.
It turned out the teen didn’t even have the phone, King pointed out, and said Ponsetto needed to understand her actions. King said the teen didn’t even have the phone and that Ponsetto was old enough to know better.
“Again, enough!” Ponsetto said while dismissively showing King the hand. “The hotel did have my phone. The hotel did end up having my phone. I did get my belongings returned to me.”King and her cohorts on CBS This Morning reacted strongly to Ponsetto’s gesture while attempting to shut down King’s questions. King said that was her “favorite part” of the interview.
King clarified that Ponsetto’s attorney, who was seated by her side, was trying to help her, and that the attorney even told Ponsetto it would be a good idea to remove her hat before the interview commenced. Ponsetto refused. The black baseball-style cap said the word “Daddy” in white letters. King also said she told Ponsetto that the interview wasn’t coming across like the apology Ponsetto said she wanted it to be.
Ponsetto’s lawyer, Sharen Ghatan, told the New York Daily News that she realized “within 10 to 15 minutes” after meeting up with her client that Ponsetto “was not well, not mentally fit to do any interviews.” Yet the interview was done.
“She was very much MIA for a while, and when she finally came to the big interview, it was clear to me she shouldn’t be there,” Ghatan said of Ponsetto. “I’m concerned for her wellbeing.”
Similar previous statements by Ghatan about Ponsetto to the Daily News did little to improve the 22-year-old client’s image.
Harrold, Jr. and his father previously spoke out about the incident. The father, Grammy-winning jazz musician Kenyon Harrold, Sr., said he was injured by Ponsetto’s attack.
“We came downstairs and we hit the lobby and she was all on him, asking for his phone immediately,” Harrold, Sr. said. “But after the video cuts off, I mean, she basically tackles him. She scratches him and I was there to try to protect my little cub, the way a parent could possibly do,” he told WCBS-TV.
“I’m a trumpet player, so now my hand’s bleeding because I’m trying to protect my son because of a crazy person saying he took her iPhone, and trying to go in his pocket, trying to go into my pocket,” Harrold, Sr. continued.
[Booking Photo via the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department]
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